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Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: Hitting 90 Overall in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER

Trophy for reaching 90 Overall in MyCAREER (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with my reflections on hitting 90 Overall in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, without spending any money on VC.

The Road to 99 in MyCAREER is a journey that can be incredibly tedious. It’s hardly a stunning revelation that this is by design, a method of encouraging gamers to pay for VC in order to skip the long grind. As much as I dislike the practice, my desire to play online with my friends in the NLSC’s 2K Pro-Am squad has seen me resort to buying VC in previous games in order to sufficiently boost my attributes on Day 1. I decided that after last year’s unashamed money grab, I would avoid buying any VC in NBA 2K19. Instead, I’d try to grind up my player the long way.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I finally hit 90 Overall. Although it felt like a long road with a lot of grinding, it did actually happen a little quicker than I had first anticipated. Nevertheless, it was tremendously satisfying, and proof that it can be done within the first few months of owning the game (albeit with some good luck). As I consider how much further I’ll travel down the Road to 99, I thought that I’d reflect on the journey so far, as well as some of the strategies that I found useful along the way. If you’re still striving to hit 90 Overall or better and are determined not to spend any money on VC, hopefully I can offer up some encouragement and helpful pointers.

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Monday Tip-Off: 2018 Year in Review

2018 Basketball Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look back at the year that was 2018 in the NLSC community and basketball gaming.

For the last few years, I’ve used the Friday Five for an annual Year in Review column. With New Year’s Eve 2018 falling on a Monday, I decided to post a regular feature last Friday, and instead tip off a new week by wrapping up the outgoing year. It’s a little quirky I know, and not as well-timed as being able to tip-off a brand new annum on a Monday as January 1st 2018 allowed me to do, but that’s the way the calendar works. The first new NLSC feature of 2019 will therefore be this week’s Wayback Wednesday, and I think you’re really going to enjoy it!

Before we get there, however, we need to put a bow on 2018. Overall, I feel it was another solid year for the NLSC, our community, and basketball gaming in general. There’s room for improvement – both in the games that we play, and what we do here in our community – and I’m looking forward to championing those efforts as much as I can in 2019. It will be imperative that we continue to provide feedback to the folks developing basketball video games, support each other in our modding efforts, and avoid some of the toxicity that inevitably seeps into gaming communities. I do think we did an admirable job in 2018 however, so let’s reminisce.

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Monday Tip-Off: Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood

Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood (NBA Jam: On Fire Edition)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on what I’ll be doing on the virtual hardwood these holidays.

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas Eve upon us, I’m in the mood to kick back with some gaming on the virtual hardwood…and maybe the virtual blacktop as well. While I’ll be spending time with family, going away with friends over New Year’s, and of course preparing future content for the NLSC, I’m looking forward to just relaxing with one of my favourite hobbies. With no less than four current hoops games out at the moment, the holidays make the process of juggling several titles a little bit easier.

Being that it is one of my favourite hobbies, basketball gaming is something that I’ve come to associate with the holidays. The school holidays were a time when my cousin and I would run franchise games in NBA Live 2000, replay the 1995 season in NBA Live 95, and defeat and play with every team in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. These days, I don’t have as long of a break and do have a few more responsibilities to get back to, but I’ll still have time to hit the virtual hardwood. The question is: what will I focus on playing as I wind down 2018? These are my current basketball gaming plans for the next week or so.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Joy of Dunking Once Again

Dunking on Lonzo Ball (NBA 2K19 MyCAREER)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few reflections on how fun it is to be dunking once again in MyCAREER.

It’s funny how things work out. A few months ago, I mentioned that I was burned out on career modes and looking to take a break. While I have indeed set up a game in MyLEAGUE with the Chicago Bulls, I have actually found myself primarily playing MyCAREER so far in NBA 2K19. The experience has been a lot better than in NBA 2K18, from the story to the gameplay. I’ve also been determined to grind my Badges and increase my ratings without paying for any Virtual Currency, so that when we finally get to play some squad games of 2K Pro-Am in the new year, I’ll be ready.

Something that’s made MyCAREER a lot more enjoyable in NBA 2K19 is that I’m actually dunking again. I’ve ended up going with the same Archetype as last year – Sharpshooting Playmaker – and while inside scoring obviously isn’t the forte of that build, my dunking rating is high enough to throw down a few slams every now and again. It seemed that should’ve been the case in NBA 2K18 as well, but as I noted around this time last year, I was left with a serious case of dunk envy. I’m pleased to report that the issue seems to have been resolved this year, which has made racking up points a much more fun and diverse experience.

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Monday Tip-Off: Crafting a MyCAREER Story

NBA 2K19 MyCAREER Story Scene

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how future NBA 2K games could craft a better MyCAREER story.

As much as I’ve criticised the approach, I am somewhat fascinated by the concept of the MyCAREER story. It’s been done rather badly in a couple of games, be it the way it’s affected the gameplay experience, the narrative, or both. As such, it would be nice to have the option of a straightforward career mode. At the same time, a lot of effort has gone into the approach over the years, and it’s paid off with a couple of rather good and enjoyable tales. Since the concept doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s vital that Visual Concepts does the best job possible with it.

When it comes to the MyCAREER story approach – in particular, the times it hasn’t been done well – there have been a few common drawbacks since its debut in NBA 2K14. Ill-fitting back stories and unlikeable personalities for the player character, annoying NPCs and cringe-worthy cutscenes, a lack of story branching, meaningless decisions, and general intrusiveness, are among the most prominent issues. The good news is that these problems can be remedied, and if backed by a well-written narrative with characters that aren’t annoying in a bad way, a story can enhance MyCAREER. To that end, this is how I’d like to see the MyCAREER story crafted in future games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Double-Dipping With Basketball Games

Michael Jordan Card in MyTEAM (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on double-dipping with basketball games on multiple platforms.

As someone who grew up playing a variety of video games on both computers and consoles, I’ve never cared for PC vs Console wars. I’ve enjoyed the hobby on both platforms, with the benefits that they each provide. Whether I’ve played a game on PC or console depends on whether or not it’s available on all platforms, the hardware I’ve had at my disposal, and if multiplayer is involved, which platform my friends are on. Of course, there are some games that I’ve enjoyed so much that I ended up double-dipping and buying them on a second platform as well.

Needless to say, basketball games are among the titles I’ve double-dipped with. In fact, when it comes to NBA 2K, I’ve double-dipped in recent years with the PC and PlayStation 4 versions; the former for single player gameplay and modding, and the latter for online play with the other members of the NLSC squad. While it’s worked out for me, in particular helping out with content creation and news coverage, I have to admit that one version of the game has usually somewhat gone to waste. With the amount of time we can sink into basketball games these days, it’s difficult to get the most out of a title on two different platforms. This year, I’m trying to remedy that.

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Monday Tip-Off: Addressing the Situation with 2K Pro-Am

The New 2K Pro-Am Squad Requirements amount to Gatekeeping (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off by addressing the situation with 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K19.

As you may or may not be aware, a significant change has been made to 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K19. Whether it’s organised squad games or the Jordan Rec Center – this year’s version of Walk-On – you need five users per side to start a game. In previous games, it was possible to play with at least three users per side, with the remaining spots being filled by AI players. This has made it more difficult for a lot of people to play a mode they’ve enjoyed in recent years. Our NLSC squad is in that boat, and so we’re among the people wanting to see the old functionality patched into the game.

However, not everyone is on board with that idea. 2K themselves haven’t made it a priority to address the situation, and there’s also been pushback from NBA 2K19 gamers. It’s admittedly hard to please everyone in this situation, but the change was myopic, while the pushback has highlighted some of the toxicity that sadly exists in the NBA 2K community. To that end, I’d like to address both Visual Concepts and the dissenting gamers in this week’s Monday Tip-Off. Call it an open letter, call it a rant; call it whining if you’re the close-minded and toxic type. It’s a situation that I believe must be addressed, and to that end, I’m stating the case for my side.

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Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K19 Edition)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K19’s Neighborhood.

Last year, I calculated the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18’s new open world, The Neighborhood. I noted that most consumables and clothing cost as much as a single game’s base salary for your MyPLAYER (if not more), which was already stretching reality. Converting VC to real dollars via the salary that’s listed on our MyPLAYER’s bio card determined that 1 VC was equivalent to around $29. This meant that in-universe, a basic t-shirt cost over $17,000, while a headband would set you back a whopping $29,000. That’s some serious sales tax!

In NBA 2K19, VC rewards were increased slightly. It’s possible to negotiate a higher first year salary upon completing The Prelude, incentive-based bonuses come along quite early in your career, and there are other ways of earning some extra VC. The catch is that upgrades are still quite expensive, as are clothing items. In other words, it’s been more of a case of inflation rather than parity. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to make the same conversions and determine the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K19 as well. Are the prices just as ridiculous when you put a real dollar value on them this year?

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Monday Tip-Off: Juggling Multiple Basketball Games

2018 Basketball Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on juggling time between multiple basketball games.

Compared to other sports, we’re in an enviable position when it comes to basketball games. There are two developers working on sim-oriented titles, and while one game is in the lead, the other is steadily improving and becoming a viable option. We’ve also seen the resurrection of the arcade basketball genre, providing us with a brand new alternative to the sim experience. Throw in a wonderful retro concept in the form of Basketball Classics, and we’ve got quite a few options these days as far as the virtual hardwood is concerned.

That does present a certain problem, of course. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of them that we can commit to video games. With so much to do in modern basketball games, it can be difficult to spend ample time with each of them if you do decide to buy more than one. As far as problems go, this is admittedly very low stakes, and indeed a desirable one to have, but those tougher issues in life are beyond the scope of a website dedicated to basketball gaming! In any event, if you’ve invested in more than one basketball game this year and you’re trying to get the most out of each, know that you’re not alone.

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Monday Tip-Off: Why Starting Ratings Must Be Higher

Starting Ratings make online play tough (NBA 2K19, Jordan Rec Center)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the ideal starting ratings for career modes, and why they must be a little higher than they currently are.

The only reason that I’m considering spending any time in MyCAREER this year after feeling burned out on the experience is to build a player for the online modes. Since our NLSC squad has spent a little time in the Jordan Rec Center so far, I’d like to have a player that stands a chance of being competitive online, without having to spend any money on VC this time around. Fortunately, Badges are easier to earn in NBA 2K19, but the process of levelling up from 60 Overall is still quite a daunting task if you don’t have a stack of VC on hand for an initial boost.

In previous articles, I’ve talked about how the grind has turned me off MyCAREER, and how it makes starting over every year feel wearying and unsatisfying. While I’ve vaguely touched on some solutions, I’d like to offer up some more definitive ideas on how to address the problem. One of the key issues that must be addressed is the low starting ratings we begin with every year. It’s a delicate situation as those ratings can’t make the game too easy or too hard, the journey too long or too short. Throw in the matter of competitive and accessible online play, however, and I think it’s clear that starting ratings in MyCAREER must be higher.

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Monday Tip-Off: Overtime for NBA 2K17 & NBA 2K18 Online

No one online in Old Town (NBA 2K17, MyPARK)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off by firing up NBA 2K17 and NBA 2K18 to see if anyone is still playing them online.

Unless 2K plans on extending their support for NBA 2K17 beyond the 27 months the company pledged following the controversy surrounding NBA 2K14, the game’s servers will be shut off at the end of this year. That gives anyone who is still playing the 2016 release a couple of months to get as much out of it as they can before online support finishes. Anyone still playing NBA 2K18 will have a little longer, as its servers aren’t due to be shut down until the end of 2019. This approach essentially affords each game two seasons worth of online support, plus three months.

While that won’t appease everyone, it’s a reasonable assumption that most gamers will have moved on to a new release in that time. Indeed, we can assume that a bulk of the fanbase has already moved on to NBA 2K19, but how many people are holding out and still playing NBA 2K18? For that matter, how many people have stuck with NBA 2K17 for the past couple of years, or picked it up again? I recently booted up both games on PlayStation 4 to see if I’d find many people still active in MyPARK and Pro-Am Walk-On, rather than hooping it up in NBA 2K19. The results were certainly interesting, at least on the Australasian servers.

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Monday Tip-Off: When Good Intentions Become Gatekeeping

Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on NBA 2K19’s approach to Pro-Am and the Jordan Rec Center, and how good intentions have turned into gatekeeping.

For the past couple of weeks, our official NLSC squad – the one that has gone by the names of both THRILLHO and GrindTime – have brought back our Friday night tradition of getting together to play online. We’ve been playing a few games in the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19, and while the experience has had its usual ups and downs, it’s been more fun than Pro-Am in NBA 2K18. Even at a measly 64 Overall – I’m currently refusing to buy VC to upgrade quicker – it’s been fairly enjoyable. The fact that the rest of the guys have been grinding more frequently certainly helps.

However, the experience could be a lot better and more appealing; not just for us, but for NBA 2K gamers in general. The problem is that in NBA 2K19, there’s a barrier to enjoying Pro-Am games, and getting to play at all for that matter, which wasn’t there in years past. This year, five users per side are required to start a game of Pro-Am, or a walk-on game in the Jordan Rec Center. Previously, three users per team was the minimum required to get a game going. 2K is obviously aiming for a particular type of experience with this decision, but the approach has resulted in those modes being far less accessible, essentially gatekeeping and promoting a sense of elitism.

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Monday Tip-Off: My Experiences Updating NBA 2K11 (So Far)

NBA 2K11 2018 Roster Teaser (Kevin Durant vs LeBron James)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on my experiences so far in creating a roster update for NBA 2K11.

As I discussed in a previous article, during the offseason I found that I’d developed a new interest in getting back into modding. One project that quite appealed to me was the prospect of finally getting more involved with NBA 2K modding by updating the rosters for an old favourite, namely NBA 2K11. After posting a teaser video, I’ve been working on the project whenever I can find the time. It remains a work in progress, and unfortunately with the 2019 season set to tip off this week, it’s unlikely that the roster will be ready in time for opening night.

That’s mostly because other responsibilities have gotten in the way here and there, but as it’s my first proper attempt at a roster update for NBA 2K11, it also continues to be a learning experience. It has been enjoyable so far though, and it’s been interesting to compare and contrast the process with making roster updates for NBA Live PC, as I did for many years. To that end, I figured that I’d share a few thoughts on the process so far, and at the same time, provide a status report on the project. With any luck, it won’t be too far into the new season before I can release rosters for both the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Tale of Two Face Scans

Dribbling in The One (NBA Live 19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a comparison of my experiences with face scans in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.

Hey, do you think by using the words “Two Face” in the title of this week’s Tip-Off, I’ll draw a few hits from people Googling the iconic Batman villain? Probably not, but if for some reason that is how you got here, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. Likewise, if you’re looking for articles about the colloquialism “two-faced” or a certain psychological concept, you’ve hit upon the wrong article. Of course, if you do happen to enjoy basketball video games, then I certainly invite you to stick around and take in our content!

With that being said, basketball gaming is, as always, the topic of the day. On this occasion, I’m talking about my different experiences performing face scans in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. While it is my intention to dial back my involvement with the career modes this year, I was always going to check them out. Since the option is available, I also tried to scan my face in for both my One Player and MyPLAYER. There were moments of frustration attempting both face scans, but one game yielded far better results than the other. Without any further musing about drawing in a few unsuspecting people via the SEO, I present a Tale of Two Face Scans.

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Monday Tip-Off: Toxicity in the Basketball Gaming Community

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 19

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the toxicity that we unfortunately so often encounter in the basketball gaming community.

Yes, cranky old Andrew has something else to complain about today! I mean, the last four Monday Tip-Off articles were all about having fun with basketball video games, so it’s about time I grumble again, right? In all seriousness, this is a topic that I feel needs to be addressed, because I believe it’s an area where collectively, we can do a lot better: toxicity among basketball gamers. Now, there is a certain amount of irony in discussing the matter in that it’s being negative about negativity, but it’s important that we do take a look at what’s happening, and aim for a constructive solution.

Before we begin, let’s address the obvious point: the situation is hardly unique to the basketball gaming community, or the World Wide Web at large. Many blogs, videos, comics, and social media posts have been made about the toxicity that all too often permeates online culture. That in itself doesn’t make it right or a desirable state of affairs however, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to change our attitudes and behaviour. I’ve been a content creator and part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years now, and I’ve noticed an increased amount of toxicity in that time. Worst of all, in some ways, developers are pandering to it.

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